There has been so much response to my Sunday column on the Archdiocese of Baltimore's decision to close 13 schools, including Cardinal Gibbons School, I thought I would share some of the more interesting and thoughtful comments with all my other readers today.
From Don Gainor: "You have no idea what you are talking about."
From Ed Bradley: "Interesting that in an entire commentary on closing parochial grade schools you never even mentioned the reason this has to happen -- the Catholic School System is a huge global education system that was operated with almost free labor (primarily nuns). How do you write this article and not use words like crisis of vocation? (Do you know what that means?) Found plenty of space to roll out the gratuitous bashing though. But that doesn't require a whole lot of depth of thinking, now does it? Yours was a very sophomoric effort. Do work more worthy of your education going forward ... Was it a Catholic education?"
No, Ed. I was a public school kid, and doing just fine, but thanks for asking.
From John Dyer: "Nice hit job on the Catholic Church."
Dear John: I guess anyone raising questions about the actions of the Roman Catholic Church is doing a "hit job," eh?
From Sean Keller: "Your article besmirching the character of Cardinal Keeler demonstrated your lack of understanding of the situation and total disrespect of the many Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. My siblings and I attended Holy Family School, one of the schools to be closed. While there are sentimental feelings, we all agree that if the school can no longer sustain itself, it is time to close it. Your comments did nothing but demonstrate how ignorant you are of the facts. Your sloppy journalism and disrespectful comments are what we've come to expect from your profession. No wonder the Baltimore Sun has become the rag newspaper it is -- there's no real work behind the articles."
Dear Sean: You might say I've been working on columns about the Catholic church all my life. Now, take a chill pill and enjoy the lovely weather we're having.
From Hunt Valley, Mark Serio wrote: "What was really telling was your seething hatred of the church. Really, that was some wild stuff! BTW ... your calling the church homophobic while criticizing pedophile priest [sic] shows some intellectual dishonesty on your part. Don't your [sic] realize that these pedophile priest [sic] ARE homosexual. But bigotry rarely relies on logical thinking does it? Also, how about picking on someone else's church and believe [sic] system once and awhile? Come on ... lets hear you rail against Jews, or Hindus, or Muslims for a change. Not [sic] guts I guess. No wonder the Baltimore Sun is losing readership ... when I grew up there everybody got the Sun Paper ... now no one does. No wonder."
Same prescription: Chill pill. By the way, Mark, did it ever occur to you that maybe the church would not have had such a problem with child abuse if it had had more priests? If the numbers had not been in steady decline for decades, if the Vatican did not cling to the celibacy rule, maybe there would have been more married priests in the rectories over the years and maybe church leaders would not have had to recycle the same misfits and pedophiles from parish to parish. Had women been allowed to be ordained, the pool of priests would have been even broader.
From Kathie Tromble: "You implied that the restoration of the Basilica [of the Assumption] and the creating of the papal prayer garden were responsible in part for the need to close the schools. You must know that no Archdiocese money was used for either project. The Basilica Historic Trust was funded with private money. You owe it to your readers to correct the impression that [$34 million] of Archdiocese money was used for the Basilica projects."
Dear Kathie: Others make the same point, but it's lost on me. Raising millions for the basilica became a priority of Cardinal William Keeler -- it's part of his legacy -- and the effort occurred at a time when the archdiocese was closing schools. In fact, in 2001 the Archdiocese closed a school near the basilica because of lack of funds for a renovation that involved asbestos removal. I think the basilica project, of dubious necessity and scope, was indicative of the church having its priorities out of line, and, like almost everything in this column, that's my view of it. One point of fact: It isn't true that "no Archdiocese money" was used on the basilica. At least $2.5 million went to it from the archdiocese's "Heritage of Hope" capital campaign in the late 1990s, according to a Sun report at the time.
From Lynn Fischer: "You seem very supportive of the Archdiocese's actions regarding Catholic schools. I want to know what happened to reporters verifying basic facts before just endorsing press releases. Why don't you ask some of the meaningful questions? Have you bothered to talk to any of the schools and verified what the Archdiocese has claimed, before assuming that their plan is motivated by sincerity and good intentions?'
Dear Lynn: Are you sure that was my column you read?
On Thursday: What parents of students in the affected schools have to say.
Dan Rodricks' column appears Thursdays and Sundays in print and online, and Tuesdays online-only. He is host of the Midday talk show on WYPR-FM.